There doesn’t seem to be much known about the early history of Johnny’s Bar-B-Q other than a man by the name of Johnny Graves began the business sometime ago. Many tales exist about the early days. One of those is told by Lucille Justice, a faithful employee who has worked for the restaurant for approximately forty years. She says that on one particular evening, Johnny got mad at all of his employees and fired everyone except for her saying, “Don’t worry Lucy, I’ll have a new crew in here in the morning.”
In July of 1963, Troy Wiggins approached Johnny about the possibility of purchasing the restaurant which at that time sat about forty people. Troy had worked for Deep South Creamery for a number of years driving a truck before becoming a partner in the Rebel Drive-In, another local eatery. He felt that this was a good time to strike out on his own and knew of the reputation of Johnny’s Bar-B-Q both locally and with the people from out-of-state. Johnny agreed to the sale and a new beginning for Troy and his wife Aleata was about to begin. Because of the excellent reputation the restaurant had gained through the years, Troy elected to leave the name as it was. Just as a side note, the very next day after the sale had been completed, Johnny wanted to buy it back from Troy but Troy refused to sell. This angered Johnny, so he went north of town to Sportsman Lake where he opened Johnny’s Bar-B-Q #2. He wasn’t there very long before his failing health caused him to leave the restaurant business for good.
As the years passed, the business continued to prosper under the management of the Wiggins family. Troy had foresight to acquire property one-half block down from the present location as it became available. In 1976, Troy and Aleata made another big move and got out of the small building they were renting to build a restaurant on this site seating approximately 120 people. The business still exists here today. This same year, their only son, Gary, graduated from the University of Alabama and was working in a local accounting firm while helping his parents in the new building part-time. After about a year and a half, he “heard Momma calling” and joined the business full time.
In the early part of 1983, Troy discovered that he had a bad case of emphysema and was forced to retire. Aleata, who was his faithful wife and business partner, decided to retire also. With the growth of the business being as it was, their son Gary was going to need some help. In July of 1983, Ronald Dunn, first cousin to Gary, joined him in the business. They continue as partners to this day where they have continued to see God bless the business in so many ways through faithful customers both locally and across the United States.
Gary’s son, Josh, joined the business in June of 2006 as general manager. Josh is a 2006 graduate of Samford University where he majored in Business Management. He is the beginning of the third generation of the family owned business.